Let us start with the good: Rice won the opener and even though it was tough, a win is a win. Yes, that is a platitude but the thing about platitudes is that they are true. Former head man Bailiff had close losses and he was shown the door. Getting these types of wins will go a long way in making sure the new regime stays for a while.
David Bailiff opened the 2008 season against an FCS school – Nichols State – 16-14 on the way toa 3-9 start. Bloomgren had a nicer start although just as tough as it took some fumbles and a safety and a tremendous comeback to do it. There are few easy narratives here.
Rice played Prairie View for only the second time in history, and first since 2016, when the Owls rolled 65-44. The Owls began season 107 under Mike Bloomgren. Bloom started last year with the Owls, only as the opponent in Australia.
The Owls debuted the much-discussed power offense and looked formidable against the young and inexperienced Panther defensive line.
QB Shawn Stevenage looked good in spots rotating with Jackson Tyner, but shaky when throwing the ball down the field. He missed a couple of open guys and Aaron Cephus dropped one that hit his hands.
The pass game needs to be an explosive counter to the power run, and that looks like something Bloomgren will build in the future. This will be tough.
The offense was all Emmanuel Esukpa and Austin Walter as the twain combined for 262 of the 318 the rush yards the Owls put up. When you browse the box score you see evidence of a blowout: 310 net rush yards, 3 forced turnovers, 22 first downs and yet it was close.
Rice could not score every time down the field and then got smoked for four straight TDs late in the second quarter and early in the 3rd. The Panthers relied on the pass game and in particular passing to 4-Star transfer Tristen Wallace.
Rice CB Justin Bickham was getting beat by Wallace early and often and Wallace totalled 5 grabs for 147 and 1 TD.
The stops late and the powerful run game pulled things out for Bloomgren’s crew but there are some obvious exploitable spots for the rest of the league: the secondary will face as-or-more explosive pass games. The offense will face more stout defensive lines.
This was always going to be tougher than anyone would hope but we learned what Mike B wants to do and if the Owls can overcome a little adversity.
Houston comes in next week and will be a significant upgrade, with the kind of talent accross the board that will challenge the Owls like the best of Prarie View did. Ed Oliver is a future NFL-er. I cannot imagine Houston allowing 300+ next week.
|9/8||@ Hawaii||Stadium (App)||TBD|
|9/22||@ USM *||ESPN+||TBD|
|10/20||@ FIU *||ESPN+||TBD|
|10/27||@ UNT *||ESPN+||TBD|
|11/10||@ LT *||ESPN3||TBD|